The Close Caboo is an excellent and very popular newborn specialist baby carrier, it's a hugely popular option both in the library and the webshop. I have blogged before about its pros and cons and compared the different models available. Here I wanted to focus on what you can do with it! Most people only ever use the Caboo in one way. The one and only carry that is shown in the manual that comes in the box. This is a carry that works for most, but not all and even those it does work for sometimes another carry might be a nice option from time to time. While the manual shows only one, there are more suggested on the box and more on their website and even more that are possible according to individual needs.
In fact I can do 9 different carries with a Close Caboo! And I am sure this is by no means an exhaustive list but rather a comprehensive starting point for you to get creative and find options that work for you! Let's take a look at each in turn, and look at how you do each one step by step:
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#1 Double Cross Carry - aka the normal one, the one in the manual. The key features of this carry are that the carrier goes on with logo upright on your back, rings and the side and baby's legs straddle the cross at the front. The material is then spread so it supports from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder on both sides and the tie on 3rd layer completes the carry.
This position is one that works for most adults and most newborns. It works best for babies in the 'fourth trimester' (newborn to 12 weeks). Babies older than this can often grow out of this position developmentally - often finding it too enclosing when they start to become more awake and more naturally inquisitive (at this point one of the hip positions below can work better). Smaller, more curled up babies and those who are born prematurely may prefer not straddle the cross (if they do not yet open their legs this wide) and for these babies position #2 is usually a better option. Likewise there are other positions that change the fit for the adult below.
#2 Double Hammock Carry - Very similar to the first carry, this main difference with Double Hammock is simply that baby sits on the cross rather than straddling it. Carrier goes on exactly the same way for the parent and feels broadly the same for them, but for the baby both legs go through both straps. The material is then spread so it supports from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder on both sides, and twists at the shoulder helps keep the top of the carry snug and face clear of material. Finally the tie on 3rd layer completes the carry.
This position can feel better for a very new baby. Particularly smaller babies or those born early. Or simply those that love to sleep really curled up. Sometimes for these very tucked up babies it can feel wrong to try to tease them apart to get one leg either side... instead using the double hammock variation allows them to remain very tucked up and doesn't change their position at all and doesn't open their legs any wider than they would by themselves. This is a position I teach regularly to parents of babies born early, or parents of babies who have low muscle tone. Not every baby needs it, and some who are born at term just prefer it anyway. Or at least for the first few weeks and then they might progress to using the Double Cross carry instead. Again like the double cross carry this position works best for the 4th trimester/newborn position.
#3 Seated sideways - In this position baby literally sits sideways in the sling. The carrier goes on the same way, and distributes the weight the same way for the adult but again what has changed is how the baby sits within the carrier. In seated sideways baby sits at a 90 degree angle to the adult within one layer of the sling with their legs together sticking out of the sling, and then the second layer comes up and over the legs to support baby's back and to close the gap, and finally the 3rd layer completes the carry.
Because baby is not chest to chest with the parent and instead has no pressure on their chest or tummy at all this can be a great position for babies with reflux, or any baby where pressure on these areas might want to be avoided (i.e. post surgery or for any other reason). It can also be a great position for babies who simply don't seem to like the chest to chest position, or find the double cross or double hammock positions too confining. Or for those babies who simply seem to just want to have a better view! Seated sideways allows babies to see their care givers faces better and see outwards a little better - while still giving plenty of support - hence it can great option for babies who are starting to want to look out more but maybe aren't ready for a hip position yet.
Or simply any baby who just needs a change of position (because lets face it we all like to change our position from time to time to stop us getting too stiff!). This position is also one of the best options for a baby who is wearing a sleeping bag or sleep sac! Generally it's pretty difficult to put a baby in a sleeping bag in a sling but because the legs are together and stick out to one side, Seated Sideways is one of the few positions that does work well with a sleeping bag.
Seated Sideways can be used right from newborn for as long as it is still comfortable for you and baby - as long as care is taken to ensure baby is upright within the sling and that the sling is tight enough to keep them upright and to keep them from slumping. I do like to stress that it is key to ensure baby is upright, because when upright their airway is protected by supporting their head and neck in a neutral position, while if more horizontal/cradle it is more difficult to ensure this neutral position and there is an increased risk of baby adopting a chin to chest position which can restrict airflow. But as long as baby is seated up right and sling is well-adjusted this can be a fab position for any baby.
#4 Upside Down - This position completely changes the fit for the adult. Turning the carrier upside down doesn't alter baby's positioning, but will feel very different for the parent. Specifically, by putting the carrier on upside down the rings are now at the parents shoulders rather than under the arm at their sides.
So why might you want to wear the Caboo upside down? A small number of parents find the rings dig into their sides. I should stress that most parents don't notice the feel of the rings at all but a small number of parents do. It really depends on body shape and where those rings end up on you. For most, the rings sit at the parent's side over a relatively fleshy part of their torso and as such the parent doesn't notice them at all. But for a few parents, often those who are particularly petite the rings come more to the front of their body and maybe sit over the ribs or less fleshy part of their body and dig in. For these parents the solution is simply to turn the Caboo upside down. This gets the rings off the ribs and up onto their shoulders where they feel more comfortable. It is worth noting that while this position does tend to work really well for more petite frames, it doesn't work as well on broader or longer torsos because having the rings at the shoulders constrains where the cross sits on your back. On a more petite frame this will still be mid back whereas on a longer or stockier torso it will be higher up on your back and this maybe less comfortable.
Another advantage to wearing the Caboo upside down is it changes the direction in which the sling is tightened: loose material is moved upwards toward the rings and then pulled downwards through the ring. Compared to moving downwards and then pulling forward when wearing the Caboo the rightway up. Many parents find moving loose material upwards more intuitive and thus find tightening easier in this position.
Finally, it's worth noting that the Caboo can be used upside down to acheive either a double cross carry (as shown in the photos) or a double hammock carry - depending on how you thread baby's legs. Either position for baby works equally well in combination with wearing the Caboo upside down.
#5 Double Cross Carry Shifted to the Hip - as the name suggests this position is really similar to #1 Double cross carry the only difference is the fabric is simply shifted over towards the hip first and then baby placed in the fabric now off to one side near the hip.
This carry is good for fairly young babies who still need a fair amount of head and neck support but are starting to become more interested in the world and want to have a better view of what's going on... or at least while they are awake! It can be a tricky age ... where baby fusses to get a better view but they aren't yet developmentally ready to go into a full hip carry carry or to forward face. So this position, which still has all the same support for baby can be really useful for those couple of weeks while their neck strength plays catch up to their noseyness levels!! It's also a good option for adults with weaker backs because it is still is a two shouldered carry (most hip carry's are one shouldered only) so it still spreads the weight across both shoulders and across the back evenly. So the adult doesn't usually feel more strain on one side than the other despite baby being on one side.
#6 Hip Carry - More of a true hip carry than #5, the carrier goes on sideways across one shoulder with baby on the opposite hip.
This carry is a great option for slightly older babies who have reasonable head control and have gone through that developmental leap from a sleepy newborn into the "nosy, must see everything" baby phase! This is often the age many parents move away from the Caboo as they start to find baby gets frustrated with too much material near their face and an obstructed view in the standard double cross carry. The hip position usually solves all this frustration by giving baby a much better view while still feeling secure and supported. In fact, assuming baby does have good head and upper torso control, they can even have their arms out, which again can make this carrier much more fun for them while they are awake and alert. Generally this position works best from about 4 months (give or take) for as long as it is still comfortable for the parent.
#7 One Shouldered Front Carry - While most parents prefer a 2 shouldered carry, there are sometimes circumstances where this is non ideal - shoulder injury, weakness on one side, etc. Or even temporary factors - maybe you slept funny last night and now have a massive crick in your neck and can't stand having weight on that side... or maybe you sat out in the garden and managed to sunburn on shoulder... either way you'll be alright in a day or two but still need to use your carrier in the meantime. In any of these circumstances it is useful to know that the Caboo can work just as well as a one shouldered carrier.
To do a one shouldered carry you simply slip one shoulder strap under your arm instead and then retighten the carrier as need. For the baby the carry is much the same as positions #1 and #2. And much like both of these positions, this carry works really well with newborns as it's a really snuggly comfortable position for baby.
#8 Torso Carry - Continuing on the theme from #7, it is also possible to do a "no shoulders" or Torso carry with a Caboo. For most parents this is nowhere near as comfortable as the standard double cross or double hammock variations... BUT on just a handful of occasions I have met a parent with terrible neck pain or shoulder issues that mean any pressure at all on their shoulders is unbearable. And on these very rare occasions a torso carry was the answer.
Additionally, without any fabric on the shoulders, the Torso carry is a lot cooler for the parent than other positions so great for those absolutely boiling days (or great if you've got absolutely terrible sunburn across your shoulders and/or back). This is a position that can work well for newborns and older babies alike. It works particularly well for babies who don't like any fabric anywhere near their face!
#9 Twin Carry - last but not at all least the Caboo can actually be used as a tandem carrier to carry newborn twins! This carry works best for twins under about 8 weeks (give or take depending on their size), and gives them a lovely snuggly carry which helps ease their transition from the womb by providing closeness not only with their parent but also with their twin - with whom they are used to spending the last 9 months closely nestled to!
Babies are positioned similarly to how they are in carry #1 but instead of sitting astride the cross, each baby straddles one of the two straps only and then the final layer acts to close the gaps and provide overall support and stability to the carry. You can also use the Caboo upside down to carry twins too, and some parents find this easier to tighten.
All in all the Caboo, like many baby carriers on the market, offers a huge range of flexibility and the possibilities go much farther than a manual ever does. I hope this helps inspire you to have a play with your carrier and try new carrying positions and find the things that work for you. Whether you have a Caboo or another carrier entirely, this is something a Sling Consultant can help you with - help you assess your needs and see if your carrier can meet them. See if there is a way to use that carrier differently to get more out of it.
PS if your interested in purchasing one, Caboo Lite cost £55 and can be purchased from Sheen Slings webshop here, (and a free 20 minute online video fitting appointment is included with your purchase). We also hire them out ensuring you can try it before you buy, or even hire for the whole 4th trimester period saving you the expense of purchasing your own.